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With the promotion of cross-cultural dialogue in the global context, the connection between ecology environmentalism, and diversity was inevitable. The resulting surge of complex issues associated with the management of the needs of vulnerable groups defined the further development of the environmentalism movement (Hopkins, 2009). Particularly, the ethical framework thereof was expanded, which allowed considering the effects of unsustainable resource management on vulnerable groups such as indigenous people. Because of the intrinsic connection between environmental issues and the rights of minorities, ecology and environmentalism must be viewed through the prism of sociocultural relationships, thus, redefining the concept of environmental ethics.
Environmental Racism and Ethics
Alterations to the environmental ethics, which the process of globalization and the subsequent rise in diversity and multiculturalism levels have caused, is also marked by the identification and disapproval of environmental racism. According to the official definition, the term is used to describe the scenario in which a minority group is forced to live in close proximity to an environmental hazard that poses a tangible threat to their health and well-being (LaDuke, 2004). The problem reached a particularly drastic scale over the past few years.
In this regard, the fact that indigenous knowledge is often dismissed as inferior needs to be addressed. According to Robyn (2002), the lack of environmental justice in the modern world is defined by a poor understanding of the technological potential of indigenous cultures and societies. Representatives of the dominant culture often tend to view technological innovations and advances of other ethnicities and cultures with condescension and even contempt (Westra, 2008). Despite the fact that members of indigenous cultures have challenged the economic, technological, and financial status quo of the modern society, the achievements of minorities are often dismissed as insignificant (Bullard, Mohai, Saha, & Wright, 2007). As a result, the breeding ground for environmental racism is created.
The fact that the issue of environmental racism has been acknowledged as one of the most problematic environmental ethics issues indicates that positive change is possible. However, the existing legal standards create obstacles for the implementation of innovative ideas and the promotion of improvements (LaDuke, 2004). Thus, the presence of environmental racism in the modern society is one of the primary problems of the environmental ethics. A shift in priorities and a focus on the promotion of equity and equality in the realm of the global community should be seen as the strategies that may help handle the issue of environmental racism.
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Hopkins, D. N. (2009). Holistic health & healing: Environmental racism & ecological justice. Currents in Theology and Mission, 36(1), 15-19. Web.
LaDuke, W. (2004). Wild rice and ethics. Cultural Survival, 28(3), 15. Web.
Robyn, L. (2002). Indigenous knowledge and technology: Creating environmental justice in the twenty-first century. American Indian Quarterly, 26(2), 198-220. Web.
Westra, L. (2008). Chapter 1. The rights of indigenous peoples: Eco-footprint crime and the ‘biological/ecological integrity model’ to achieve environmental justice (pp. 3-22). In Environmental justice and the rights of indigenous people: International and domestic legal perspectives. Sterling, VA: Earthscan. Web.